Recently, DealerFire staff of the female persuasion decided to take a painting class together for a little girls night out. As part of the class, we had pre-chosen a piece of artwork for inspiration and then were led step by step through the painting process by a seasoned instructor.
As each of us let loose of our inner artist and our masterpieces began to take form, individual creativity and personality was slowly revealed. And while each of us were given the same tools and were shown the same technique, each painting took on its own form.
Some of us were harder on ourselves than others. Some singularly seemed more beautiful than the next. Some skies were more blended and some grasses more lush. A few adventurous souls stepped out of the box and added their own flair or painted something different altogether. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, Eric told a bit of his story and perspective on online car sales in the blog post “Selling Cars – Still a Priority?“. This week, we’d like to formally introduce you to Eric Bolster, DealerFire Regional Sales Manager.
Bolster joined our team in July 2013. A brand new father, he still finds time to enjoy hobbies that include being in the outdoors and anything related to cars. Read the rest of this entry »
The point to this flashback is, I believe passion sets the great salesman apart from the salesman that struggles to make numbers each month. However, some will argue that a great car salesman doesn’t have to be passionate about cars at all. Some would say a good work ethic and ability to be good with people is the only requirement. One thing is for sure, if you are not following up with your leads, you aren’t selling anything.
I grew up with my father teaching me a strong work ethic and independency that I am grateful for to this day. As soon as I was able and upon his urging, I gained a work permit and began summer employment at a Fortune 500 retailer while the rest of my friends planted themselves at the community pool.
This company taught me to call shoppers “guests” instead of “customers.” It was a different way of thinking back then, but is in line with exactly how it should be. People on your lot, on your website or in your showroom should not only be called guests, but also valued as guests; as if they were guests in your home and not only your dealership, you should be fulfilling their wants and needs.
Fast Forward: Now fast forward, I combined my retail experience and my life interest and turned to…CARS! I brought youth, high energy, a need to succeed to the dealership. I went to work early to make coffee and stock the fridges with beverages for guests and most importantly, called or emailed website leads from the night before.
I asked an older, cowboy boot wearing salesman I looked up to, “Why don’t the other guys fight to call these website leads each morning?” I’ll never forget his reply. He told me, “If you have the energy to entertain those tire-kickers instead of selling cars, then go ahead.”
Soon after doing my morning routine, I found myself moving up the whiteboard grid on my sales manager’s office wall and other salesmen noticed more and more guests come into the showroom asking for me from conversations that all started from website leads.
Today: Now, years later, you can’t ignore an internet lead. If you are in a dealership and get first-party leads directly from your own site or your paying to get your leads from third-party vendors, it’s honestly the new “name of the game” to selling cars!
And we all know that the first-party leads that come right from your own website have a higher chance of closing and are easier to close, but the point is that they are ALL important, right?
I pose this question based on my own recent experience that have me pondering if Internet Sales Managers, General Managers and even Dealer Principals know what’s going on in their own dealerships.
It started when I began my hunt for a new vehicle. Still being in the auto industry, I knew exactly what I wanted out of my next new car, but needed to find the dealership who had it on their lot. Finding new, used and Certified Pre-Owned versions of the perfect vehicle wasn’t hard, so I narrowed it down to price and submitted my personal information through the website, willingly giving my email, cell and work phone numbers.
Each morning I would check my email inbox and spam folder (just in case) and look for voicemails or missed calls, but was let down. I moved on and submitted a new lead to the next dealership, providing my email, cell and work number once again. The cycle repeated itself and I found it to be more effort on my part than that of the dealer. I was shocked to realize that dealers throw money to lead providers, hire people at dealership level for the sole purpose of gaining leads and invest in lead converting websites to have me on their doorsteps knocking waiting for no answer.
What Happened Next: In three weeks, I submitted eight leads to eight different dealerships of which one emailed me back to let me know that they were sold out of 2014s and 2015 models would arrive in late July; however, never asking further interest questions nor any effort in inviting me to the lot for a different option.
I did have two automotive CRM auto-responders send the generic “Thank you for your interest, a sales rep will be contacting you shortly.” But the contact never happened.
Only one dealership actually called and emailed me and asked to learn more about me, invite me into the showroom to drive the vehicle and and follow up to answer questions I might have.
- Four dealerships never did anything with my lead information
- Two dealerships that failed to follow up on a CRM auto response
- One dealership that didn’t care to sell me anything
- One (and only one!) dealership that did it right.
After this personal experience, I thought about the automotive industry and all of those in it who talk and write books on this very subject and then remembered a quote from the great, Zig Ziglar who said “Timid salesmen have skinny kids.” I think that quote fits this perfectly to what is going on here.
Not only is this a training opportunity, but wouldn’t you call this a profit leak? I knew what I wanted, what I could afford and was willing to give someone my business, but I was the one putting in all the work. To me, any incoming lead, sounds like an easy conversion and an easy payday, so why wasn’t selling me, the guest, a car made a priority?
The Solution: So how do we fix this? If you’re an internet sales manager, a new car manager, used car manager, general manager, vice-president, part owner or dealer principal, you need to be aware of how your leads are handled in your own dealership!
Ask yourself things like:
- Is my team calling leads?
- Do they introduce themselves and the dealership?
- Are my salesmen using my marketing dollars to convert online traffic into car sales?
One way to gain answers and accountabiility is by digging into your CRM and read the notes, assuming those notes are transparent and entered correctly.
The best way, however – the most honest way to answer your concerns and to gauge if this is a profit leak for your dealership – is to test it. Create an email address set-up via MSN, Google, Yahoo or another and submit a lead and grade the response, if any, in terms of your own key performance indicators for time, friendliness, quality and thoroughness.
Takeaways: By treating your shoppers as guests, understand they have needs and wants and by having a team on the other end of that lead ready and willing to follow up with any guest who takes the time to share their contact information, you can then plug this profit leak, make many more contacts, build or repair the dealership’s reputation and most importantly – MOVE MORE UNITS!
Last week, Heather told a bit of her story in the blog post “A Mom in the Sales World“. This week, we’d like to formally introduce you to Heather Loker, DealerFire Regional Sales Associate.
Born and raised in Minnesota, Loker joined our team in January 2014. Being a mom gives her a deeper enjoyment for the work hard, play hard culture in the sales department. A believer in the superior quality and innovation of the DealerFire products and people, she appreciates the honesty and transparency by which she is able to do her work, creating solid partnerships from first call to last.
But enough about us. Watch Heather tell her own side of the story in his VIDEO AUTOBIOGRAPHY, then shoot her an email to schedule a demo today!
During a recent conversation with a fellow baseball mom at my 10 year old son’s practice, she turns to me and says, “I just don’t know how you do it.” I asked her to clarify to which she said, “I mean, how do you work full time, raise two kids and help out so much with baseball?”
I really don’t know. Between the kids, husband, work, baseball, housework and randomness, it doesn’t leave much time. I have a 10 year old and a 1 year old who rule my life, and I am okay with that.
Wake up. Be awesome. Sleep. Repeat.
My life changed in January when I started down a new road in the sales industry. While my professional background includes experience in both sales and customer service, my work life stayed at work. I was a mother first and an employee second, sometimes being the parent staying home with a sick child or leaving early for appointments.
At DealerFire; however, I have been able and open to blending life’s responsibilities. My work email is linked to my personal cell phone and I am writing this blog in between sending out baseball board meeting minutes. Just when I thought my life could not get busier, my work is now more than just eight hours a day.
And I enjoy it!
My sales life is my work life and my work life is now woven into my personal life. The good thing about all of this is that it is still MY life – on MY terms! Being a mother has not only trained me for feats such as carrying six bags of groceries in one trip or two baseball bags and a baby into the gym; it has also prepped me to be a more understanding person in the sales world. The customer is always right, but I am learning to be more assertive when needed and when its in their best interest.
In my current position, I make the first connection to our dealerships. I reach out to potential customers and guide them through the benefits of using DealerFire as their premiere website and digital marketing provider. The fact is that our websites are not only responsive, generate more leads than the competition and come with the best customer service ever, they are really cool looking too!
With everything that I have learned and am still learning in the automotive and online industries, my faith in the product and company is ever-growing. From the first call until the last, our customers will always speak to a real person. In the world of automated responses and connections, DealerFire is old school: You call, we answer.
I still check my personal Facebook before I get out of bed, but I am checking my email now, too. I may not be the associate closing deals, but the conversations I have with customers are just as important to me, as is the first impression that is left with a dealership. And while my family still, and always will come first, I am now willing to say that my work is a tie for second place to my son’s baseball. We all have good days and not-so-good days and yesterday’s homeruns don’t win todays games!
A.C.E. It! Passing the Content Marketing Test in Any Size Market
In today’s online business environment it’s pretty fair to say that competition has never been more fierce, especially for companies that must compete in or near the large geographic landscape of a major metropolitan city. Not only do these car dealerships compete in a market crowded with direct competitors in the form of other dealerships, they also must compete with indirectly.
Indirect competition can range from things like public transportation and even much smaller companies most of us may not think to include like perhaps the local bike shop or even carpool initiatives. So what can one take away from this?
Large city + competition from all angles = a much needed and highly specific game plan.
So what is a dealership located near a major U.S. city supposed to do in order to reach their target audience? Naturally, with it being 2014 and all, they must rally the troops and march to the online battlefront. (Yes, even for businesses that sell cars a lot depends on online efforts.)
And how should a car dealership in a large (or small market), look to better reach its target audience and get ready to take their marketing efforts online? Well, it’s just another test. And what do you want to do when they are given a test? A.C.E. it of course! Here at DealerFire, A.C.E. means to: Analyze, Collaborate and Execute.
One thing we take tremendous pride in here at Dealerfire is our content marketing. Content marketing can accomplish so many great things for every car dealership; from helping them rank at the top of the SERPs to building their corporate image and brand, and helping to convert leads into customers. Even though it’s a term with which most are familiar, we see it is a whole lot more than meets the eye – content marketing is more than just putting up words on a website.
When starting any content creation, analyzing, collaborating and executing is vital to the dealership’s online success. The strategy starts with our Account Management sitting down with every client to unveil core competencies, unique and specific advantages and basically the burning problems or gaps that any particular dealership wants to overcome and conquer.
This is the big one!
After the initial communication channels with the dealership have been opened and we understand what needs to be done, that information trickles down to the content writers. However, just creating content around a few key takeaways and assessments is simply not enough and is only a small piece of the puzzle. Some may think it’s best to skip the small talk and jump right to the bottom line of selling more vehicles! But it’s not that easy and there is no one trick pony that will sustain in getting a dealership that first page ranking and consumer interaction. These ideas and thoughts must be shared across the entire marketing spectrum and everyone needs to be on board for this all to work.
The Account Management team may ask, “How large of an area are we looking to cover? Who/what is our major competition?”
Our PPC (Pay-Per-Click) team needs to be informed on what the content is intended to organically rank so they can match search terms to enhance the dealership’s overall quality score and drive more people to the website through paid advertisements.
The Support Department needs to make sure everything on the website is working properly. They may ask, “Do the calls to action on our custom content pages take the user to the next step and get that ever important conversion?”
The Analytics Experts need to monitor and track success to help adjust the marketing strategy as needed and keep content relevant and fresh.
The list of inputs goes on from virtually every department here at DealerFire.
Taking into consideration variables such as geographic proximity, seasonal events, community events, new trends and pretty much anything and everything the public eye may be focusing on right now, we start developing content that drives automotive consumer engagement. So really, when you think about it, having a company blog or updating web content is great! But only considering new content and ignoring the many other moving parts of digital marketing efforts will lead to a plateau. It’s only when you really start to fine tune all the parts to work effectively together you can expect to A.C.E. today’s digital marketing test.
Confused about DNS? Leave it to the experts!
As an IT professional, and when you are dealing with the Internet and regarding where website, email and other services are pointing, you have to understand something called DNS (Domain Name Service).
To make a long story short, the DNS translates Internet domain and host names to IP addresses. DNS automatically converting the names we type in our Web browser address bar to the IP addresses of Web servers hosting those sites.
Here at DealerFire, we are making changes to DNS for clients and making sure the pointers are correct on a daily basis. This is typically only needed when provider of services (host) change, but it becomes critical to act swiftly when they do.
Normally, these changes are done at the top level, at the Name Servers. This is where DNS is managed for a domain. Once you make the appropriate changes, propagation immediately takes place across the internet and the changes are visible to the world. Now, in rare cases, we have had clients report that even several days after the DNS changes were made, everyone in the world can see the changes and their brand new automotive website, except for those within their own dealership.
Here’s what we do…
We contact the client and have them perform a few tests called ‘lookups’ to determine how DNS is resolved. In essence, finding what mechanism at the dealership is causing them not to pick up on the recent top level changes. After completing this process, the conclusion is invariably that they have their own local DNS server at the dealership with static entries answering to requests from local user’s computers, thus giving outdated information. We find this is the outcome in all cases.
At this point we suggest two solutions:
- Give the client correct IP addresses for website(s) and other services so they can manually edit their local DNS.
- Ask that they re-configure using DNS at top level (sometimes not always possible due to how their internal network is configured).
Either way, the resolution to this issue is always 100% the same and successful.
So when it comes to DNS and having any questions or concerns with its workings, leave it to us – the IT experts at DealerFire!
Last week, we gave you a glimpse into the automotive and digital marketing expertise of our grand prize content contest winner in “Bounce Rate Blues“. This week, we’d like to make a formal introduction to Eric Giroux, Account Manager here at DealerFire.
Based out of Lawrence, Kan. (Rock Chalk Jayhawk, Baby!), Giroux joined our team in December of 2012. His background as Marketing Director in a multi-rooftop dealership not only prepared him for his position at DealerFire, but is how he met with our acquaintance as well.
With this brings a keen sense of understanding the role he plays in project management and communication between partners and departments as the liaison who simply gets the job done – and done right!
But enough about us. Watch Eric tell his own side of the story in his VIDEO AUTOBIOGRAPHY, then shoot him an email. He promises a quick response!
What are your bounce rates REALLY trying to tell you?
As we learn about site metrics, we’re often forced into a frame of mind that leads us to believe that for each performance metric, you want to see them at their highest or lowest numbers. Higher is always better, and lower is always worse. Or vice versa.
Let’s take for instance Bounce Rate. According to Google Analytics, Bounce Rate is defined as the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).
Naturally, it’s safe to assume that the lower the bounce rate, the better, right? Of course we want people interacting with our site! Whereas site interaction is good, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a lack of site interaction is bad. It is my contention that in many instances, a higher bounce rate could be indicative of a STELLAR and effective entrance page.
My favorite example of this is a gorgeous auto repair microsite, Sentry Collision Center in Boston, Mass. This site is gorgeous and converts, but it does have a relatively high bounce rate, and the client was concerned.
Here’s the situation: A guy wrecks his car.
Question is: Where does he take it to get repaired?
Answer: He does his research – checking out Google Places pages, Yelp reviews and others, he finally lands on my client’s page and says, “Phew! After ten minutes of clicking around on Google and Yelp, I have finally found you, my chosen auto body repair shop. Thanks for making your phone number prominent. I shall call you now.” <CLICK.> He X’s out. The site gets a bounce, but also delivers a lead.
Believe it or not, this guy DIDN’T say to himself, “OK, now that I have found this site that I like from a shop that I know is in my area and with reviews I can trust, I better click their SERVICES tab to make sure they repair front bumpers. It would be a shame if this auto body shop only repaired rear bumpers. I better read more to find out before making a call.”
Conclusion: So you see, in many instances, a high bounce rate could mean they liked what they saw, they judged the book by its beautiful cover and they decided to call. Invest in tracking numbers to validate your suspicions, but don’t dismiss a website and its supplemental digital marketing because certain entrance pages have a high bounce rate. That could just be exactly what you’re looking for!